This summary is dedicated to the memory of my family's cocker spaniel, Abby, who passed away on Sunday night. We will remember her always. Rest in peace, Abby.---------------------------
Official Treasure Hunters Episode 2 Summary
"How to Win at Reality Television"
Previously on Treasure Hunters
-A bunch of people run around South Dakota solving clues.
-NBC barrages the general public with repeats of the first two hours of programming in a desperate attempt to improve ratings.
-Bravo stops airing Queer Eye episodes for a moment to generate more interest in this show.
-NBC shows an hour-long recap, just in case anyone missed the previous twelve repeats.
Before we get into this episode, I want to make something clear. I've watched a lot of reality television. I've seen it all: backstabbing, critical mistakes, questionable strategies... The works. However, there are so few TV shows these days which fully exemplify the key strategies to actually succeeding on reality TV programs. Luckily for us, the following episode of Treasure Hunters demonstrates the Six Helpful Objectives for Reality Television Shows, which I affectionately call SHORTS. Anyone who embraces SHORTS is bound to succeed at reality television. Trust me. I know what I'm talking about.
After the mystical credits roll by, we revisit the teams stuck in South Dakota, America's 48th most popular state. The remaining teams are staying at a camp to eat, sleep, and mingle with the other teams. That is, until the next leg starts, which could be somewhere between six to twenty-four hours away. The teams aren't really sure, but don't trust the evil NBC executives. Therefore, most of the teams have opted to sleep in tomorrow's adventurewear.
At 2:20 AM, as the teams enjoy their first and only REM cycle, they finally receive their phone call from the Mysterious Robotic Host. He tells them about the travels of Lewis and Clark, who traveled across the western lands for some reason. Poor Sacagewea don't get no love from nobody. The teams will follow the route laid by Lewis and Clark to travel to the Lexington Mines in Montana. However, instead of groovy covered wagons, like in Oregon Trail, the teams get nifty Toyota Tundras.
First, teams have to grab a key and find the matching car. Because, you know, those Treasure Hunter producers have to make everything slightly more complex and difficult. But only slightly. Even the Hanlons could figure out the "Where's the Toyota Tundra Key Go?" challenge. Team MissUSA solves this puzzle first, followed closely behind by Team AirForce.
The Hanlons, not surprisingly, depart last and immediately begin arguing about directions. 'LilHanlon, or "Josh" for short, tells us that once his papa thinks he's going in the right direction, there'll be no changing his mind. Until, of course, they reach the Canadian border. Even then, he gets some cheap meds, so everyone wins. PapaHanlon considers listening to BruthaHanlon, but that guy got wasted in Amsterdam, so his opinion doesn't count. Of course, this is coming from someone who considers Oklahoma as the Unorganized Territory. Welcome to the 1840s, folks.
As PapaHanlon consults a map, the first three teams have arrived at the Montana Mines: AirForce, MissUSA, and the Fogals, in that order. Now, according to the Mysterious Robotic Host, teams need to enter the mine and find a hidden chamber, which holds their next clue. Because the mine is so narrow and treacherous, teams may opt to leave their fattest team member behind.
All three teams enter the spooky mine and immediately start playing with their sparkly flashlights. They find some buckets hanging on the wall, with some nearby water. Then they see another bucket, covered in snakes, with the message "Bend the Light" etched into its side. MissUSA and the Fogals depart to find some bendable light, while AirForce quickly solves the puzzle. They pour some water into the bucket, thereby refracting the light to reveal a message. It says "Wood Bottom, Missouri River, Montana."
As AirForce leaves, the Mysterious Robotic Host explains that teams must now drive 150 miles to the location and canoe 20 miles down the Missouri River. The canoe must be on the banks by dusk, or the teams will have to wait until dawn to proceed.
Meanwhile, the next three teams (GradStudents, Geniuses, exCIAs) arrive at the mines. While they enter, the Fogals have finally solved the clue, and leave MissUSA behind. MissUSA is pretty upset about this, having to solve the clues with their pretty little heads of theirs. At least they solve it on their own. The Grads, Geniuses, and exCIAs have this crazy notion about "teamwork," "camaraderie," and "plagiarism." Basically, the Geniuses wow the others with their supreme Physics knowledge, and all three teams move on. Finally, all those Friday nights of not-getting-laid has finally paid off for them.
Since all great things come in threes, and all the strong/good/decent/tolerable teams have left, we'll have to settle for the Southies, Browns, and Hanlons now. As usual, the Hanlons have gone into Everything-Is-Suspicious Mode, so they begin decoding the various markings on the cave walls. See these funny looking cracks on the walls? If you cross your eyes, it kinda looks like the word "Portugal." Lisbon, here we come.
As the Hanlons keep decoding, the Browns are on the right track. They quickly solve the riddle. On the way out, they find the Southies, who are rabidly attacking a stone wall. Fearing a potential cave-in, the Browns give the clue to the Southies. Or it was the Southies' irresistible Bostonian accents. Hey, it seemed to work for Boston Rawb on Survivor.
The Hanlons, meanwhile, are becoming very frustrated. PapaHanlon says that this is more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and he's about to shoot all the monkeys. That's right, papa. Making a intelligible metaphor is easier than shooting fish in a barrel. Which, for PapaHanlon, is very, very difficult.
In case you were wondering, AirForce has arrived at the canoeing site around 5:40 PM. Unfortunately for them, it's past 5:30, so they won't be able to canoe until dawn of the next morning. Seems like a funny time for "dusk," if you ask me. This isn't the Yukon Territory, folks. Daylight lasts longer than four hours. Despite all of this, in grand TAR fashion, all the teams are bunched together.
That's assuming, however, that the Hanlons can solve the puzzle by dawn. They've spent eleven hours in the mine, staring at the buckets and the dripping water. That's not a typo, folks. Eleven hours. Does it really take eleven hours to solve this puzzle? There's only three useable things down there. You've got (1) a bucket with a kinda-cryptic puzzle, (2) other buckets, and (3) water. Lots and lots of water. Lots and lots and lots. The clue could've been "Just Add Water!" and they'd be stumped. I seriously wonder if these three are capable of making hot cocoa. Darn you, confusing Swiss Miss packets.
After a bit of praying, the Hanlons finally put two and two together and solve the puzzle. They leave the mines and enjoy a big manhug. One of them thanks Texas for continuing to believe in them. Although, by this point, I'm sure the entire state of Texas have gone Dixie Chicks on those three by now. They're so ashamed.
Since the Hanlons do indeed make it back to the campsite before the canoeing begins, they demonstrate Objective #1 of SHORTS...
If it did, the Hanlons would be eliminated already. So there.
Eventually dawn finally breaks, and the teams begin their canoeing adventure. Teams will travel twenty miles down river, and should notice various red stars along the way. Forty paces directly behind the 14th star, teams can find the next clue. The canoeing reminds me of the final river challenge of the old Oregon Trail computer game. But, by then, all of my party had developed scarlet fever and rattlesnake bites, so I never got that far anyway. The Browns obviously didn't either, proven by their poor paddling skills and their ability to actually stay in the boat. They should've brought Gervase along, I say. Now that guy could paddle.
While the Browns attempt to ford the river, the Hanlons have finally decided to depart, four hours behind the leaders. Team AirForce, currently in first place, have begun Rabid Portage Procedure, carrying their canoe across a three-mile course. The Fogals are close behind, but are having trouble carrying the canoe. As usual, ClumsyFogal hurts herself on the canoe, and PreacherFogal quickly dismisses it. Luckily for them, the Southies take pity on them, and offer to help carry their canoe.
Meanwhile, the Browns have decided that they would rather walk the twenty-mile course, instead of risk having pruney fingers. Unfortunately, they realize that walking also takes effort, so they try the canoes once again. This time, they're much more successful, but that's not saying much. The Hanlons pass them anyway. Once again, the Hanlons have demonstrated another key strategy of SHORTS...
The Hanlons got two extra hours of sleep and still passed the Browns. So there.
The Grads have reached the Portage point. They're running along happily, with the wind flowing through their hair until suddenly Jessica gets her leg caught in a hole. Her knee is swelling up pretty badly, so the two other Grads have to carry her and the canoe, one piece at a time. They could have tried dragging the entire canoe with Jessica in it, but that kind of reasoning would require at least a Masters Degree.
Still, the whole ordeal seem to be bringing the Grads a lot of camera time, and that's what reality TV is really about. Even if they lose, they can still be considered for Treasure Hunters All-Stars. Therefore, we have Objective #3 of SHORTS...
Seriously, did anyone know who the GradStudents were before this moment? Especially with MissUSA bouncing around? Of course not. So there.
Team AirForce has located the 14th star, but are having difficulty in finding the right digging location. The 40 paces thing is confusing them. It doesn't really matter though, since the team finds the clue under a Suspiciously Pointless Fire Pit anyway. Teams must now use the special decoder and journal pages to travel to Tower Rock, their next destination.
Meanwhile, the Fogals have a brilliant plan. PreacherFogal suggests that the teams should stop at the 13th star, just in case everyone miscounted. The Southies and the exCIAs seem to think this isn't a bad idea, so both teams get out of their canoes. The Fogals? They've got bigger fish to fry. They keep on paddling, thereby demonstrating Objective #4 of SHORTS.
If you backstab others, they'll be too mystified by your greatness to fight back. And if they do, backstab them again. Again and again and again and again. So there.
This is a great plan, considering how close the Fogals are to elimination. Also, considering that every team leaves at the same exact time for the next leg. The Southies and exCIAs have now coined the term "Fogaled," meaning "to pointlessly betray or deceive." Still, the plan seemed to work, as the Fogals receive their next clue in 2nd place, followed by the Southies and exCIAs. In the car, the Fogals celebrate by saying a prayer about how they're like everyone else, except that they have God. Who is, of course, omnipresent. But for now, we'll just assume he hovers exclusively over the Fogals' SUV.
The Grads are currently receiving medical help. The Groovy Medical Man of Montana basically wraps Jessica's knee and tells them they can't do any more physical work. And that includes reality TV shows. No reality TV challenges for three weeks, Jessica. Wait? You're on a reality TV show right now? Isn't that an unhappy coincidence?
After a commercial break and something about text-messaging, Team AirForce arrives at Tower Rock. Now they must search the area to solve a clue in order to find the next artifact. However, there are only 8 artifacts for the 9 remaining teams, meaning one team will be eliminated. It's kinda like a game of Musical Chairs on steroids, except there's no chairs or music involved. Somehow I feel cheated right now.
A small amount of exploring has yielded a big clue for AirForce. They've found a sign with a bunch of random letters. Or are they? It takes them about two minutes to consult the decoder matrix and solve the puzzle. "Follow close and to the right; look 'neath a rock as dark as night." So basically they're looking for a black rock. And it's somewhere to the right. These clues get more and more difficult to solve. Next week's gonna be the "Find a Green Tree" challenge.
While AirForce goes rock-hunting, the Fogals, Southies, exCIAs, and MissUSA all begin solving the coded message. Eventually, AirForce does indeed find a black rock, and they receive the next artifact, a shiny new compass.
They're followed by...
2. The Fogals (2nd place wins everything!)
3. Southies (The Red Sox were Fogaled, dang it)
4. exCIAs (Preparing the polygraph test for the Fogals)
5. MissUSA (Hey, we're fourth runner-up!)
6. Geniuses (The product of nine college majors)
Now that the competitive teams are gone, the Hanlons make their appearance. Channeling the spirit of the YoungProfessionals, they think the message says "Theodore Roosevelt" if you look at it upside down. Guys, the show would be too easy if the answer were Theodore Roosevelt every single time. Besides, the puzzle isn't that difficult. Let's take inventory, shall we? They've got (1) a coded puzzle with random letters, (2) a decoder paper, (3) wildlife, and (4) a Toyota Tundra. Despite how simple this appears, the Hanlons still spend four hours at Tower Rock.
Then it happens. The Hanlons are hungry. Hungry and stupid. Therefore, they're having it their way, which is an essential part of SHORTS.
I know what you're thinking. They're going to drive 80 miles, round-trip, to buy themselves some Angus Whoppers at Burger King. During the middle of an elimination challenge. Terrible strategy, right? Well, if they famish before they even finish the challenge, they can't win the game. They won't even be alive. So there. The burgers stay.
The Browns and the Grads seem to enjoy the Hanlons' strategy. Both teams have arrived at Tower Rock, and each decode the message. The Hanlons eventually return, and LilHanlon solves the clue for his older, more feeble companions. The Grads find the artifact, finishing 7th overall, despite dragging Jessica around for 20 miles. And they weren't even in danger of being eliminated.
So it's race to see who can find a black rock first. Yawn. No running, no music, and no Phil. Just a bunch of leisurely rock-searching. Thankfully, the pseudo-suspense is snapped when the Hanlons find the final compass, thereby eliminating the Browns. The Browns give a sad speech about having a good run, but they're still disappointed.
Still, it seems appropriate. The city of Cleveland weeps tonight, because the Browns have once again missed the playoffs.
Or have they? Apparently the Browns are all over next week's previews, so there is always the possibility of a Wild Card. Because of this revelation, the Browns demonstrate the sixth and final component of the SHORTS program...
Now that's some good strategery.
Apologies for taking so long with this. This has been a crazy week.